FIRST THOUGHT: Period Talk
The other day, my bestie and I were talking about when we got our periods. Everyone knew because suddenly, we were carrying around a purse. We got on the subject because when my friend was at work last week, she got up from her desk and took her purse into the bathroom. She wondered why she didn’t just carry the tampon in her hand, and why she was still awkward and ashamed about it.
We aren’t in junior high anymore. This isn’t gym class junior year. So, truth or dare? (This is the part where you say "dare"). The next time you’re out, I dare you to hold your “feminine hygiene product” in your bare hand and walk to the bathroom.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: More than 400
Today, we’re talking about periods. So if that made you at all uncomfortable, you need to read this more than once. The average woman has more than 400 periods during her life. That means the average woman also goes through as many as 15,000 period products (tampons, pads, panty liners), too. So, you may not think that tampon tax is a big deal on one purchase, but it adds up, girl. In case you don’t know, that refers to states that normally don’t tax medical and health supplies but, for some reason, exclude period products from that designation.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Jana Girdauskas, Founder of The Period Purse
Y’all know I judge a place by its bathroom, so if you want to win me over, add a basket of overflowing tampons and, boom! Immediate 5-star Yelp review. We all know that with periods comes unnecessary embarrassment and equally superfluous expense. Jana Girdauskas is a special education teacher, a mother of two and an advocate for menstrual equity.
It was always Jana’s dream to lead a nonprofit and a couple years ago, she made it happen. As the founder of The Period Purse, Jana addresses a serious issue facing homeless women. When you compare homeless men and women, the latter has an added necessity and expense. Homeless women deserve access to sanity products. Period. (Get it?)
Jana came to this realization after coming upon a homeless woman and having nothing to offer. She thought it’d be simple to fill a purse (something the woman could use for a long time) with items from her closet and essentials. That’s where The Period Purse comes in. The idea is to fill a purse with hygiene products, including stuff for Aunt Flo.
Based in Toronto, The Period Purse has extended to other cities in Canada. When a woman’s basic needs are met, they can do incredible things. Women who experience periods without these products must resort to stiff, brown paper towels, toilet paper or a t-shirt.
A year after Jana created The Period Purse, she teamed up with a teenager to create steering boys’ reactions away from the classic “eww.” The program has been used in seven schools and counting, while nearly 17,000 period products have been given.
In addition to accepting donations, The Period Purse offers a chance to “sponsor a menstruator.” Alongside a name and a photo, a woman describes what life is like without access to menstrual products. You can choose to sponsor a particular person for only $12 a month. For Jana and her host of volunteers, offering women something they need doesn’t just satisfy a necessity; it offers them dignity and equality.
QUITE THE QUOTE
Grace Hopper said:
"If it's a good idea, go ahead and do it. It's much easier to apologize than it is to get permission."